From the Superintendent
West Irondequoit CSD update from Aaron Johnson
November 19, 2021
I hope this finds you and your family well as we head toward Thanksgiving, a time of the year when we often reflect upon the good in our lives. For me, I am thankful for the support you give your children and our staff, and I am blessed to work with so many talented people who invest in our schools and your children.
On many levels, we knew returning to full, five-days-a-week instruction would be a challenge. So, we started this school year with additional supports in different areas. Our hope was to mitigate the impact COVID-19 had on our students and provide support for staff. Over the past 2½ months we have listened and assessed. We have received feedback from parents/guardians, our staff and students. Your voices have been heard and we plan to put that knowledge to good use.
As a result, our administration will soon present a comprehensive plan that summarizes the support we have used with new resources for consideration – all tied to the pandemic-related Federal Stimulus money. This plan considers all grades and buildings K-12 and the unique needs of each.
There will be additional positions added in areas where students and staff need extra help. For students, it may be tutoring, other academic needs or to fortify work in social-emotional learning and behavioral issues or mental health. For staff, it may be a boost in pandemic-related areas such as COVID screening, testing and contact tracing. That will allow Principals to be even more present and on-task in their buildings to focus on the needs of their students/staff. We must do this so our schools can continue to function as productive and safe places to learn and grow.
Below are several additional updates with more information. Please reach out with questions and again, thank you for everything you’re doing to support our schools. COVID is still something that impacts our district daily on many levels, so please stay safe. May you all enjoy your time next week with family and friends!
Aaron R. Johnson, Ed. D
Superintendent of Schools
OUR DEFINITION OF CURRICULUM
In alignment with our WICSD Strategic Plan, we have been working to create a common definition of curriculum to drive the curriculum work that will occur over the next few years. The process to create a definition has been extensive. At the end of last school year, the District Curriculum Council (DCC) reviewed a sampling of curriculum definitions from a variety of educational resources to begin to envision what our own curriculum definition could look like.
As our Strategic Plan was finalized this summer and year one tasks commenced, we began creating a common K-12 definition of curriculum. At the September and October DCC meetings, a K-12 representative group took on the task with a goal of creating a clear definition that was family and community friendly, as well as aligned to our WICSD mission and core commitments. As a guide, we utilized research grounded in Understanding By Design (UBD), as well as the use of the NYS Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Framework. The DCC created three variations of a definition at the conclusion of the September meeting.
Later in October, the three draft definitions were shared with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Curriculum Subcommittee. This subcommittee is comprised of district teachers, staff and parents. The curriculum subcommittee provided additional feedback and revisions to the definition. These revisions were synthesized and shared back to the DCC during their October meeting. The DCC team then finalized the definition that is presented below. Please take a moment to review and complete the very brief survey, linked here.
Our curriculum is a standards-based guide to the content, skills and learning experiences that we guarantee for all students. Our curriculum is a promise to the community that students feel seen and heard, broaden their understanding of the world, and grow into confident and empathetic community members. We will achieve this through:
- High expectations and rigorous learning experiences
- Relevant, inclusive, and student-centered instruction
- Opportunities to advocate, problem solve and collaborate
This is just the start of our work to create clear, consistent K-12 curriculum. For the rest of the year, the DCC will engage in research to create a common curriculum template, as well as determine the essential components of curriculum. This process will help bring our definition to life!
PAPER SHORTAGE AT SCHOOL
Our District, as well many others locally along with businesses, is experiencing a paper shortage from various suppliers throughout Rochester. As a result, you may see more teachers sharing information electronically compared to printed pieces going home. We appreciate your understanding.
STRATEGIC PLAN WEBINAR (VIDEO ABOVE)
You have already received letters with pieces of details on our five-year Strategic Plan and a summary booklet that was mailed home. If you would prefer to watch a video replay of a webinar on it, click on the video above. It was the focus of our latest Community Connections on Tuesday, Nov. 16th. Our administrators shared details and fielded questions from community members.
COUNSELING: RESTORATIVE PRACTICES UPDATE
With respect to our ongoing efforts to support Social-Emotional Learning (SEL), our district is also committed to enhancing, aligning, and strengthening our work with Restorative Practices. What are Restorative Practices? They are highly effective ways to prevent harm and to rebuild relationships when harm has already been done. Restorative practices are proving their success in schools, in the justice system, in communities and in families.
Over the past year, our staff has worked to raise awareness about Restorative Practices (RP) and Community Building, a key principle within Phase I of this initiative. Trained staff and leadership have worked to expose students and staff to Community Building Circles through authentic classroom experiences, building meetings and communication. Most recently, WICSD has renewed its collaboration with the Partners in Restorative Initiatives (PiRi), an organization whose “external brokerage” will support our efforts to enhance our work and implementation.
Recent efforts have also entailed the K-12 administrative leadership team reviewing key tenets of RP, providing input into a cohesive vision and presenting to our Board of Education. In the coming months, we will establish an RP District Leadership Team. It will support the long-term sustainability of these efforts and the ongoing professional development to maintain a Welcoming and Affirming Environment for ALL students, staff and families. For more information, please reach out to Mr. Joe Jackson, our Supervisor of Counseling, Student Equity and Wellness, or your building principal.
Email Joe Jackson:
NOMINATE SOMEONE FOR PTSA HONORARY LIFE AWARD
The Honorary Life Award is the highest honor a PTSA can bestow and the nomination deadline this year is Friday, Dec. 10th. Please consider nominating someone via the link below! Honorees should have demonstrated care for children and devoted service in our school and community. Being a PTSA member is not a requirement. For more on the criteria and to nominate someone, click here: www.wicptsa.org/honorary-life-award. View past winners here.
DISTRICT OFFICE HOURS NEXT WEEK
District Office will be closed on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next week when students are not in school. If you need to drop off any letters or documents, please do so in the drop box in front of the building.